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Friday, 31 May 2013

First Impressions

First impressions count - even with a script.  I don't mean your basic mistakes like using the wrong format, using different colours for characters or writing in crayon - it can be a much smaller thing.  Like how you describe your play.
I have a little quandary - I'm debating with myself - I'm procrastinating... How should I, if I should, describe a play?  The play is a comedy.  This should be indicated by the content, in the sense that it is funny.  I know this because at a read through people laughed, a lot, so I'm not delusional.  (Unless I am delusional in that they all actually sat in silence and this is a false memory / dream.)  However, readers of the play have - in feedback - seemed to have missed this point.  One response went something like this: such and such a scene was deeply moving.  I'm not going to describe the scene, but imagine saying that an episode of The Two Ronnies was deeply moving and you'll get the idea of the absurdity of the response.  Somehow the fact that the situation and characters are in no way particularly normal, comic in fact, doesn't seem to have come across.  It's not even that readers don't like it or don't find it funny (hell, people have different funny bones) - it is the failure to identify that it was a comedy at all that terrifies me.  I know the play is partly satirical, but please - dear [insert deity] - don't tell me people think it's a document of truth - that it mirrors the readers lives so much that it might as well be verbatim.  Kill me now if this is so.
So, do I point out to readers that it is a comedy?  I've put this question up on facebook and twitter and (as usual with actual questions rather than silly jokes) no one has said a damn thing in response.  (I love my followers - they're so unresponsive.  They're probably all closet trolls who just can't quite summon the will to reply with something rude.  Can't even be bothered to unfollow me.  Lazy sods.)
The obvious reason not to add an epithet is it sets one up for a fall.  A comedy (once identified) has to be funny, and that might be setting myself up for failure.  It's not as bad as putting it down as 'an hilarious comedy', which is the code phrase for 'crock of shit'.  I toyed briefly with a description - 'a moral comedy, without morals' - which fits the play well.  And then I realised it was a.) wanky bollocks and b.) even more off putting than 'an hilarious comedy' - so that one bit the dust quite quickly.
Perhaps, as it does have serious themes hidden beneath the comedic surface, I should call it 'a dramatic comedy', 'a comedic drama' or 'a comedy drama' - but everyone knows 'comedy drama' is what you call comedies that both aren't funny or particularly dramatic.  Another code phrase for 'crock of shit' then.
It could be worse - there are some people who label their work 'a play' (no shit Sherlock) as an offering to the gods of the patently fucking obvious.
The case against calling it 'a comedy' is less that it's nature is failing to get across to readers (the phrase 'a comedy' is more about marketing for an actual production, clearly selling the goods to the public) but that in the eyes of a reader 'a comedy' lessens it's importance.  Comedy, though big business, is not regarded as important (especially in theatre) as tragedy and it's modern offspring.  I look up to tragedy, comedy knows it's place.  So, perhaps missing that the play is a comedy could be my biggest bonus.  I look forward to earnest German productions where the whole mess of silliness is treated with the utmost seriousness and there isn't a titter to be heard throughout.  Except for me, of course, sitting in the stalls and laughing my head off at how easily people miss the point.
So - on discussing it with myself - I'm not going to call it a comedy then.  Right, now that's decided, I can actually have a look at the actual play...

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